WASHINGTON – Former President Donald Trump unconstitutionally profited from the presidency during his tenure in the White House, reaping millions of dollars for his business empire from foreign governments, House Democrats allege in an extensive report.
Democrats on the House Oversight Committee released a 156-page report Thursday morning accusing Trump of exploiting the presidency to financially benefit himself and members of his family. Trump’s businesses, according to the report, received at least $7.8 million from corrupt and authoritarian governments including China, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The report is the culmination of a nearly seven-year investigation. It says records and documents obtained by House Oversight Democrats reveal “a stunning web of millions of dollars in payments made by foreign governments and their agents directly to Trump-owned businesses, while President Trump was in the White House.”
Among the report’s findings and records available to the committee, China made the most payments to Trump’s businesses during his tenure, spending more than $5.5 million at Trump Tower in New York and two of Trump’s hotels in Washington and Las Vegas.
House Oversight Democrats specifically accuse Trump of violating the Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause, which prohibits the president from profiting from foreign governments without the approval of Congress.
The report notes that its findings are incomplete after House Republicans took control of the committee last year and halted the investigation, which the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., started in 2016 when he was the top Democrat on the committee.
“It is true that $7.8 million is almost certainly only a fraction of Trump’s harvest of unlawful foreign state money, but this figure in itself is a scandal and a decisive spur to action,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, wrote in the report’s foreword.
House Democrats issued a subpoena to Mazars USA, Trump’s former accounting firm, in 2019. Trump attempted to block the request but the Supreme Court upheld the subpoena in 2020. Trump, Mazars and the committee then controlled by Democrats agreed on a set of terms for Mazars to release its records on Trump.
After Republicans took control of the committee, Mazars was eventually released from its legal obligation to provide relevant documentation to the Democrats’ investigation.
As a result, the report “is a significant glimpse into former President Trump’s foreign financial dealings –but far from a comprehensive account of his unprecedented efforts to use the presidency to enrich himself and his family in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution.”
The new details into the former president’s finances come as House Republicans continue their impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden and his family’s finances. GOP investigators have long alleged the president financially benefited from his family’s foreign business dealings.
While the GOP-led probe has turned up evidence revealing the president’s family made millions from their overseas interests, investigators have yet to implicate Biden in those dealings directly.
“It’s beyond parody that Democrats continue their obsession with former President Donald Trump,” House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, R-Ky., said in a statement reacting to the report. “Former President Trump has legitimate businesses but the Bidens do not.”
The limited documents obtained by House Oversight Democrats show that Trump received at least $7.8 million in foreign payments to his businesses during his presidency, according to the report.
From China, Trump’s businesses received money from the Chinese embassy, Hainan Airlines Holding Co., a Chinese state-owned airline and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, a Chinese state-owned bank.
Underscoring the uncertainty surrounding the exact number of payments made to Trump’s businesses, the committee only confirmed a payment of $19,391 from the Chinese embassy to a Trump hotel in Washington. The records only document the payment for an arrival date in August 2017 and do not specify an end date, suggesting that the amount “likely comprise only a fraction of the funds ultimately expended for a stay or event.”
The report highlights multiple remarks from Trump on China that coincided with the payments and suggests they could have influenced foreign policy. In November 2017, after the payments from the Chinese embassy, “then-President Trump traveled to China where he lavished praise on President Xi and, notably, defended Chinese trade practices in stark contrast to his previous public pronouncements.”
In another instance, Hainan Airlines Holding Co. spent $195,662 at a Trump hotel for what the committee described as an “astonishing 14-month stay.”
The records from Mazars do not describe the exact services provided beyond an arrival date, a departure date and “other charges.” According to the report, Mazars had no further documentation on Hainan Airlines, “suggesting that The Trump Organization may not have turned over all of the documents associated with these charges.”
The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China spent at least $5,357,495 at Trump Tower in New York from February 2017 to October 2019, according to the report’s estimate based on public filings with the Security and Exchange Commissions that outlined annual rent for the bank, which was a longtime tenant of Trump Tower since 2008.
Mazars said it found no documents related to the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which the report says “raises troubling concerns about The Trump Organization’s candor with its accounting firm.”
Among its other findings, the report estimated that Saudi Arabia spent at least $615,422 at Trump Tower and Trump’s hotel in Washington during Trump’s tenure, basing the estimate on Mazar’s limited records that documented payments only for 2018 for Trump Tower and a weeklong stay in Trump’s Washington hotel.
“These countries spent – often lavishly – on apartments and hotel stays at Donald Trump’s properties – personally enriching President Trump while he made foreign policy decisions connected to their policy agendas with far-reaching ramifications for the United States,” the report reads.
The report takes aim at Trump for rejecting bipartisan advice from ethics experts to divest himself of his corporate businesses and instead giving control of his businesses to his two adult sons. Consequently, Trump was enabled “to prioritize his personal interest over those of the nation.”
House Oversight Democrats also allege Trump violated the Domestic Emoluments Clause due to a “pattern of payments from domestic individuals, entities, and government agencies that raise significant potential conflicts of interest.”
A future report, Democrats said, will focus on payments Trump received from domestic government sources. It is unclear when that report will be released.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump profited from foreign governments, House Democrats allege